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Can Experiential Retail Revivify the Mall?

by simon
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Everyone knows that malls took a pounding these last few years. Consumers have nothing against brick-and-mortar. In fact, they still spend in stores more than they do online.

It’s just that they want better reasons to shop than browsing aisles of stuff. So, while retailers experiment with experiential retail, mall developers are keen to give it a try.

Experiential Retail: Because Rows of Stuff Don’t Cut It

Mall operators have long sought ways to make up for the loss of big retail closures. Some, however, make a big splash about it. For example, a real estate developer plans to open a 126,000 sq ft experiential retail mall called Area15 in 2019. Of course, it’s in Las Vegas, so they have to make a show of it. Nevertheless, it’s the kind of trend investors hope will tap a particular demand for more than just shopping. It brings together themed events, restaurants, and lease-able space designed for experiential retail. Nothing new, to be honest. But if it’s a sign of what’s to come, developers have good reasons to bet on the experiential mall.

Retailers Respond to Customer Demand

Simply put, customers want to do more than just shop. And developers are only following retailers that make experiential retail part of their business model. Since close to 70% of executives in one survey say they’ll spend more on in-store experiences by 2020, why shouldn’t malls do likewise?

Food, Entertainment, Personalization

The driving force behind experiential retail has to be the technology that consumers carry with them everywhere. Specifically, eCommerce and the smartphone change the premise behind shopping experiences. So, when consumers, especially younger shoppers, go to the store, they want more than what they can get from eCommerce. A National Retail Federation survey shows that 49% of millennials visit stores due to entertainment and dining options. Beyond the food and entertainment experience, they seek exclusive discounts, live and immersive product demonstrations, and more. Moreover, malls that feature experiential retail see a higher number of visits and average spending.

Tying it All Together

While experiential retail helps brick-and-mortars compete for foot traffic, it’s still only part of the story. The fact is, 75% of consumers expect a consistent shopping experience in stores, online and mobile. In short, they want what the omnichannel can give them. Omnichannel businesses thus need a real-time, comprehensive system to manage sales, inventory and fulfillment.